Questions and concerns about a proposed wind farm in Rural Municipality of Cartier continue to stall a council vote on a zoning bylaw for the project.
The 7,769-hectare wind farm proposed for the south side of Trans-Canada Highway between Dacotah and Elie is an issue of contention for many residents.
Their concerns with the 63-turbine project range from health issues to the effects the structures may have on property values.
Council halted a vote on a zoning bylaw for the situation of proposed turbines after concerns were raised about the project at a public hearing on July 9.
“The majority of people at the public hearing had concerns, but I think the majority in the municipality are for it,” said Cartier Reeve Ronald Rasmussen.
The $200-million wind farm project will be on the same 100-mega watt scale as the St. Leon wind farm in southern Manitoba with approximately 63 turbines, each four metres in diameter at the base and 121 metres high to the tip of the blade.
Some residents voiced their displeasure with the project at the public hearing. Rasmussen said most residents were concerned about the distance turbines would be located from property lines according to the zoning bylaw.
The bylaw passed first reading by a 5-1 council vote in June. Since then, set back guidelines for erecting the turbines changed from 500 metres from neighbouring property lines to 2,000 metres.
Some residents believe the distance is still unacceptable and note the current set back continues to restrict the use of aerial applicators in neighbouring farmlands.
They also point to cases in Europe where wind turbines have been established in rural communities for at least a decade resulting in negative health effects for residents, including cases of severe dizziness and nausea.
Developers for the project, Sequoia Energy Inc., claim the turbines make a noise audible at 45 decibels, which is equivalent to the noise generated by an average refrigerator.
Council has decided not to vote on a rezoning bylaw for a set back distance for installation of towers from residential and commercial property lines until residents’ concerns are reviewed by Manitoba Municipal Board.
Many residents are also concerned about future property values and livelihoods if there is a large-scale change to the landscape.
“If they put up a wind project here and people don’t enjoy the place they live anymore, and it’s also their livelihood, then what will the feeling of the area be when it is permanent?,” said one local resident who wished to remain unidentified.
Council will give second reading to the project when it holds its next meeting on Sept. 10
By Leah Kellar
1 September 2007
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